Periodontal treatment needs in the Medicaid patient population: a retrospective study in a US dental school


The aim of this study was to use electronic health records (EHRs) from a US dental school clinic to retrospectively investigate associations between periodontal treatment needs and insurance type in a newly insured adult Medicaid population. We hypothesized that newly insured Medicaid patients, covered by the Iowa Dental Wellness Plan (DWP), would display greater need for treatment than patients with other sources of financing.


A retrospective chart review of EHRs of patients at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics (UI COD) from 2014 to 2016 was completed. The outcome of interest whether or not a new patient was indicated for scaling and root planing (SRP) based on clinical examination. Logistic regression models analyzed associations between treatment need and source of financing, adjusting for known periodontal disease risk indicators.


A total of 1,259 patient charts were evaluated. SRP was indicated for 56 percent of all patients. Patients with DWP coverage had significantly greater unadjusted odds of being indicated for SRP than privately insured individuals (OR = 1.47, P = 0.009). However, this association did not remain significant after adjusting for known risk indicators.


Although individuals enrolled in DWP were not significantly more likely to need treatment than individuals with other sources of financing when adjusting for risk indicators, their demonstrated clinical need was higher than privately insured adults. Public benefit programs could anticipate greater burden of periodontal need in low‐income populations due to increased prevalence of risk factors in this population.

Sukalski, J., McKernan, S., Avila‐Ortiz, G., Cunningham‐Ford, M., Qian, F., & Damiano, P. Periodontal treatment needs in the Medicaid patient population: a retrospective study in a US dental school. 79 1 53 - 59. 10.1111/jphd.2019.79.issue-110.1111/jphd.12294.